It's the morning of another average day in Danville Heights. Beyond the town's natural beauty, some of its residents are waking up to breakfasts and the start of a new day. However, the violence and passion of the prologue has helped color the feel of the narrative, providing an insider's understanding of Danville's dark and turbulent history below the placid surface. There is an almost surreal feel to the scene and a sense of a carefully crafted façade. Like the film The Truman Show, cracks appear in reality's bubble. Finally, a hint at an upcoming narrative shift within the unnatural gloom of a neighboring town. Author Smith has crafted a ominous start to this super natural thriller.
An Average Day
THE COMMUNITY OF DANVILLE HEIGHTS offers the scenic route to a carefully crafted universe. Slightly remote, its lush qualities exhibit the care and attention bestowed upon public gardens of the award-winning variety. Humid summers often afford such beauty whereby the depth and array of even a single hue delivers explosions of color that captivate and amaze. Mature trees beckon the weary and envelope their plight through casts of shadows that cool and soothe.
In this town, a simply stretched hand could easily collect ripe tomatoes, fragrant peaches, and loads of warmth. And with their expansive porches, slender fences, and perennial delights, comfortable homes seem to have been plucked from the pages of a country interiors magazine.
Winding paths offering both structure and texture mimic red carpets via celebratory deliveries of common folk from one place to another. In essence, everyone was glad to see everyone else, or at least they were extremely polite in greetings protocol. As such, a warm smile that’s always on the menu is reassuring indeed.
Across the way, the flutter of early morning resonated. Clearly, there was evidence of a noisy conspiracy amongst little children in this town beginning with four wheels on a skateboard going round and round. Shoestrings tied into a fancy bow. Flowing red hair. These combined elements shaped a young girl’s fantasy: a red-haired Barbie doll sailing to exotic locales in a boat flowing along with the tide.
This invention traveled up and down a hallway located right outside Kinsu’s bedroom. And much to his dismay, it didn’t take long for the noise to travel inside.
A seventeen year old with shoulder length, black hair who was named after an uncle from Japan, Kinsu Yamada reckoned with himself. Should he get up now knowing that the tide would rise on this boat therefore causing the noise to rise with it? Or, should he chance a backward slide into the sleepy zone where his own mind could flourish with fantasy of another sort?
No chance. His little sister, Christine, who was seven, was serious, and so was Barbie. She had taken one of Kinsu’s shoes to fashion the boat and tied his laces with fanciful, graceful twists; thus, the sails.
With Barbie’s red hair in continuous flow, Kinsu expressed something like a grumble, and the 5-foot-9, muscular quarterback dragged himself across the room, and then opened the door and exclaimed, “What in the world?”
Christine looked upward with her big, almond eyes and answered stoically with just a hint of attitude, “Barbie’s on a sailing vacation.”
Being naturally mellow, he stared, smiled, and shook his head all at the same time. With a yawn, he rubbed his eyes and looked back into his room to momentarily greet a friend: the sun. He thought, unfortunately, it’s time to get up.
Back, forth, back again, then forth with a kind of curve in the middle. That’s a rocking chair for you, a solid one that was built with real wood. It had beautiful grain, carvings, and curves just the way the soft smiling, always waving, silver haired Mrs. Perkins remembered from childhood. At nearly seventy-five, she sat in it every day, especially early in the morning before the sun peeked through those sprawling trees, and again late at night.
A peaceful neighborhood quite a ways from the town of Sandry Lake, Danville Heights was just the way she liked it. Small community feel, opportunities to get to know your neighbors, and even more opportunities to know their business. Just the way she liked it. After all those years, she was still the town’s nosy rosy. Meant well, however.
As she rocked, a phenomenon was happening. Sparkling dew slowly evaporated from tall, shiny green, chlorophyll-laden blades of grass. The dew mysteriously appeared when the cold enveloped the blades during the night and very early morning. When the sun appeared, it suspended this action and retracted the moisture that was so refreshing to the blades.
Drying out right before her very eyes seen yet unseen, each blade had a story to tell as it emerged into the new day. Many stories, much like the ones Mrs. Perkins had stored in memory. She knew a lot about the personalities around Danville Heights. Guessing correctly, confidentiality was not one of her stronger suits. On the other hand, she was clear that some secrets were not to be revealed. The trick was in imitating the blades’ mastery of secrecy through the decades.
In any case, the contribution of the rocking chair was part of the puzzle in the day’s awakening. It meant that everyone was active in making the day work. Kids were up and running around, boys were slowly rolling out of bed, and coffee was on.
Kinsu’s mother, Della, a black-haired Japanese beauty who was now forty-three, found her way into the front room to open the curtains. She welcomed the sunlight and the energy it gave to her creative, peaceful space.
All of this lent to the familiarity of the neighborhood and its inhabitants, and made for a smooth transition from night to day without interruption of normal events.
A few blocks away, deep slumber was the preferred guest in a scenario where sixteen year old Chase Freeman, a 5-foot-10, slender, basketball playing friend of Kinsu’s, had blocked any notion of school since yesterday. Chase’s older sister, Reneé Freeman, who was twenty-four years old, was raising him. Their single mother had passed away nearly two years ago from breast cancer. They only had each other now and were doing their best to make it from day to day and semester to semester.
An especially pretty girl with mocha skin, a slender frame, long, kinky-curly hair, and deep hazel eyes, Reneé was definitely in charge. She kept the house in order taking care to do what her mother would have done. As Chase matured, she gave her all toward trying to keep him focused and forward thinking. A big job for a girl whose wounds still seemed fresh while dealing with such responsibility, but it appeared to be working so far.
Reneé worked at a café while taking online college courses, and Chase was a junior at Danville Heights High School. He was a good student and needed a lot of food and a lot of sleep, but not this morning. If he was going to catch a ride with Reneé he had to get up … now.
Ever busy, Reneé rushed by his room while putting away the laundry, and considering the pot of oatmeal on the stove, they needed to get moving quickly. Sensing there might be a penchant for feet dragging in the next room, she shouted, “Chase, you’re walking today!”
“Okay, okay, I’m up, see,” he quipped. Powerful for a young man, he stood and grabbed all his covers in one hand, and in a daze, suspended them for a moment. “See, I am up,” went his farewell to his warm sanctuary. His deep brown skin glistened in the sunlight.
His sister heard him and laughed, “You’d better be, or you’re walking,” went her final, giggly warning.
Several streets over just past the flowing wisteria situated above pots bursting with sunny colored mums, the conspiracy amongst small kids furthered as they made their presence known without hesitation or care. They couldn’t help it if they were physiologically designed to get an early start almost every day. After all, they weren’t totally aware of the concept of hushing-up while others were sleeping. They also frequently awoke to a familiar rumble, in the jungle that is. When it was time to eat, it was just time to eat, so feed me, went the rationale.
Their father, Gabriel Morales, was hip, he got it. Either that or it was his day to give mom an opportunity to be in love with her pillow for a couple more hours. Knowing he would have to deal with pancake dust flying or crunchy round things greeting the floor, he inquired, “Cereal or pancakes? What do you guys want?”
A smart and insightful man of fifty, Gabriel knew the best arguments were always the absolute shortest, if at all possible. After he dropped the question, the small ones looked at each other, puckered their lips, and at the same time gave opposite answers, and then just stood there staring at dad.
“Sounds good to me,” said Gabriel as he made a mad dash for the kitchen.
These were Alex’s adorable left and right hands, younger siblings Matthew, who was five, and Maria, who was eight.
Alejandro Morales, or Alex, a classmate to Chase and Kinsu, was newly eighteen and definitely ready to graduate high school and move away from Danville Heights to pursue an exciting career as an architect. At 5-foot-9, Alex wasn’t as tall as some, but he was a big thinker and considered a leader and role model amongst his friends. Boasting a mix of Hispanic and Native American, he was good looking with medium brown skin, dark hair and eyes, and had a girlfriend named Josie Perez.
A close knit unit, Alex and his friends had discovered wondrous things in their short lives, often relying on him to un-jam them in sticky situations. As morning unfolded, Alex could hear small feet rumbling outside his door, so he turned his pillow and buried down to get the last wink possible.
Interestingly, there was no awash of the sun this morning in the not too distant town of Sandry Lake. Considering the height of the downtown east side buildings that usually got a golden kiss by now, this seemed odd. Didn’t the rooftops feel lonely as they awaited the moment to greet the bright, refreshing rays that gave energy to the earth? They did, but it wasn’t happening and even the alleys seemed dry, almost powdery, and empty.
There was always action on the freeway, but the pace was void of hectic, and the mood was incredibly sunken and slow. With a lull in the air, the town was quiet and subdued. A stark contrast to the sunny bonds being made in Danville Heights. A random observer might easily conclude a certain gloom over Sandry Lake that would someday meet these sleepy boys under circumstances no genie could predict. There was no guessing at what lie ahead, but for now, everything was on task in Danville Heights where the sun could honestly believe it had a multitude of friends on which to rely for the next stretch of time.